Help! Does My Dog Have A Fever?

What you need to know 🤒

Dog Fever

If your dog isn’t acting like himself and something seems ‘off,’ a fever could actually be the reason he’s not feeling great.

This cold and flu symptom in humans can occur in dogs, too, although the causes of a fever in dogs are not exactly the same.

We spoke to Dr. Amber Karwacki, a veterinarian with Heart + Paw, about the reasons a dog fever might occur, how you can diagnose his fever at home and ways to help him feel better.

Dog fever signs

The normal temperature range for your dog is 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

“If his temperature is over 104, your dog should be seen by your veterinarian,” Dr. Karwacki told The Dodo. “Temperatures over 106 can be dangerous and cause serious problems in your dog.”

So, how can you tell if your dog has a fever? Well, there are a few warning signs to look out for, according to Dr. Karwacki:

  • Lack of energy
  • Increased panting
  • Dark, red gums

But taking your dog’s temperature is actually the best way to figure out if your dog has a fever.

How do you take your dog’s temperature?

A rectal thermometer is the most accurate way to see if your dog has a fever, and you should designate one just for your dog (for obvious reasons).

“A small amount of [water-based] lubricant should be used on the thermometer so that the thermometer can be inserted easily into the rectum,” Dr. Karwacki said. “After the temperature is taken, the thermometer should be cleaned off with rubbing alcohol.”

Possible causes of a fever in dogs

There are a few reasons why your dog might have a fever:

  • Infections — To fight off infections, your dog’s natural response is to raise his body temperature. As the infection resolves itself naturally (thanks to his immune system) or with antibiotics, the body temperature will return to normal.
  • Heat stroke — If left in a space without adequate ventilation, your dog’s body temperature can rise, causing heat stroke.
  • Toxins — Certain toxins (moldy foods, some human medications, chocolate, and snail or slug bait) can cause the dog's body temperature to rise if ingested.

What to do if your dog has a fever

If you take your pup’s temperature and it’s over 104 degrees, he should be taken to your vet ASAP for diagnosis.

“As there are multiple reasons your dog could have a fever, your vet will need to determine the root cause before offering a diagnosis,” Dr. Karwacki said. “There’s always a possibility that your dog’s fever is of unknown origin, meaning the cause can’t be determined. In that case, the fever symptoms will be treated while your dog is monitored.”

If the fever is severe, then your dog will need to be hospitalized.

“He’ll receive IV fluids and medications to help lower the fever as well as possible cooling procedures,” Dr. Karwacki said. “If the fever is mild, your vet will most likely give medication (such as antibiotics) to fix the cause of the fever instead of medication to reduce the fever.”

However it happens, here’s to getting his fever down quickly so he can be back to his happy and healthy self again soon!

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